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Why Are We In Libya?

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"...get a man greedy enough and he got the guts to go -- go, go, ... Vietnam, hot damn."

- Norman Mailer, Why Are We In Vietnam?

The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the program created by Congress to expend over $700 billion of our tax dollars to prevent a "meltdown of the financial system," is a "colossal failure." It's now official.   Neil M. Barofsky, the man hired as TARP's special inspector general, has come clean.

Why is it a colossal failure? Because, Mr Barofsky says (1), the act passed by Congress "expressly directs" Timothy Geithner's Treasury Department to spend hundreds of billions of the TARP money to aid struggling homeowners with their mortgages.

This has not been done. Instead, as critics have pointed out ad nauseum , all this tax money went to high-wire-act financial institutions so they could regain their balance, "not only to survive but even to flourish." In essence, the bursting real-estate bubble was re-inflated with ordinary Americans' tax revenues. The argument went, for those at the bottom, we did it for your own good.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and a US bombing in Libya by unknown

Before piloting the Treasury Department, the brilliant Mr. Geithner worked for Kissinger Associates, the International Monetary Fund and was president of the NY Federal Reserve Bank. He was also a pal of the previous Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who had headed Goldman Sachs. Geithner is, of course, very familiar with the financial Ponzi schemers whose institutions he saved because he's one of them.

Now, with Iraq and Afghanistan in mind, cut to Libya and the fine sentiments expressed by President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Samantha Powers about saving the Libyan people from a horrific fate painted for us with harrowing imagery. Certainly, bloodshed was in the offing, and I have no question the Obama team is well intentioned; at least, many Americans seem to see their intentions that way.

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Similarly, I have no doubt all the crap about saving working Americans' mortgages was equally well-intentioned rhetoric at the time it was advanced, and surely our fine members of Congress when they voted for the TARP bailout expected the money they voted to go to working families to actually go to working families.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and a US bombing in Libya

The point is, there is something loose in America -- something predatory and ruthless -- that snickers cynically at all this good-hearted rhetoric and, then, turns good-sounding American policy into a rapacious, single-minded and self-serving instrument for those entrenched with power. As is the case with the TARP funds, the interests of wealth and power always seem to find a way to trump efforts to advance the dignity and well-being of the ordinary working American.

This predatory beast is killing us from the bottom up.

As Mr. Barofsky makes clear, ordinary, hard-working poor to middle-class citizen-families were intended to gain from the TARP provisions. But they have not.   The incredible part of it is, even Geithner acknowledges this -- as he indicates there are no plans to alter course.

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If you are one of the working American families now homeless that might have been kept from foreclosure by TARP money, what Geithner and the rest are telling you is: "I know, and you know, you're being screwed. We're sorry, but our lives are more important than yours."

The fact the financial tsunami that led to all this lower class misery was created by the hotshot econo-psychopaths who went to Harvard and cozied or clawed their way up into those spacious offices atop those skyscrapers doesn't seem to matter any more. All that matters is that the feeding not be interrupted.

Tragically, you can see the same terrible and dishonest arc of reality at work in the Libya intervention.

First, it was a "no-fly zone." Well, gee, maybe that's not so bad. I would feel really good if we could stop a massacre of innocent people. And, gee, since I don't read newspapers or books and just watch TV and don't have a real clue what's going on -- and, plus, I don't want to seem like a wimp -- well, sure, create a "no fly zone" and keep me posted how it goes.

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I'm a 68-year-old American who served in Vietnam as a naive 19-year-old kid. From that moment on, I've been studying and re-thinking what US counter-insurgency war means. I live outside of Philadelphia, where I'm a writer, photographer and (more...)

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